His full name was Edwin Arthur Jones and he was born on June 28, 1853. His family lived at 9 (later 17) Pearl Street, across the street from Stoughton Town Hall. Unfortunately, the house was completely destroyed by a fire in 2003. His other home on Walnut Street still stands across the street from the Edwin A. Jones Early Childhood Center.
As Edward Everett Hale, author of "The Man Without A Country" wrote, E.A. Jones was "one modest man who knows the power of music."
E.A. Jones was one of Stoughton's most prominent citizens in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, involved with many town activities including the schools. His music was also heard frequently and appreciated by his fellow town citizens as well as in Boston.
Yet, when I first discovered all his manuscript music in 1980 at the Stoughton Historical Society, it was in a large brown package and had no identification on the outside.
Over the years, I've been editing and getting his music performed, in many cases for the first time.
Unfortunately, The Old Stoughton Musical Society, which Jones was very actively involved with in the 19th and early 20th centuries, seems to have mostly forgotten about him today.
Is he unknown because he is not as well known a composer as Stephen Foster or Charles Ives? Or, is it because his name is so ordinary, sounding like a stodgy old New Englander? His music is anything but stodgy.
It seems he is ignored by accademic scholars and music critics because he isn't well known today. But his music deserves to be heard before it is judged.
If you listen carefully to his music, you will hear a vibrant composer of his era.
A hundred years ago, Jones was one of Stoughton's best known citizens, mainly due to his town activities and his design of the Stoughton Town Seal, which features a harp designating the oldest choral musical society in the United States of America.
Jones graduated from Stoughton High School in 1869 at the age of only 15.
His music career began with studies at the New England Conservatory of Music in violin, organ and harmony.
Jones then entered Dartmouth College in 1872, where he was active in many activities. Like Charles Ives at Yale, Jones was active in sports and music. Jones was Captain of the baseball team, one of the editors of the college newspaper, and Director of the Dartmouth Glee Club. He graduated in 1876 as Class President. While attending Dartmouth College, Jones composed several exceptional glee club choruses for tenors and basses, including two from 1874: "Praise Ye the Lord" and "Blessing and Glory." These two choruses have been recorded and are on the multi-media DVD, "How Beautiful Upon The Mountains"
In 1872, Jones was one of the violinists among the thousands of musicians who played in the famous World's Peace Jubilee and International Music Festival at Copley Square in Boston. The special invited guest at the Festival was Johann Strauss Jr. from Vienna, known as "The Waltz King."
After graduation from Dartmouth, E.A. Jones went to Baltimore to work in his parents' store. Following the inspiration of Strauss, his first major instrumental composition was a charming series of piano
pieces titled, The Farewell Waltzes (Op. 8), published in Baltimore in 1874. The modern day premiere of these piano waltzes was given in 1986 at the Museum of Our National Heritage in Lexington, Massachusetts. The Farewell Waltzes is one of the works included on the DVD.
Six years later, in 1880, his First String Quartet in F Major (Op. 13) was performed at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, where it was well received. A few years later he returned to Stoughton where he remained the rest of his life.
© 1984 - E.A. Jones: His Life and Music
In the 1880s, Jones formed his own orchestra [shown in the picture] in Stoughton and performed at many local plays and concerts.
The original Stoughton Public Library building is now the home of the the Stoughton Historical Society. The builiding was dedicated in 1904 when Jones was one of the Trustees of the Public Library and one of his choruses, "Hail! All Triumphant Lord," was performed at the dedication ceremonies in 1904. It was played again from a performance of the Old Stoughton Musical Society at the Centennial observance at the Stoughton Historical Society in 2004. That chorus is included on the DVD, "How Beautiful Upon The Mountains."
Among his many accomplishments was arranging for the Stoughton Musical Society to perform at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. They were the only musical group to perform there representing early New England music. E.A. Jones led the orchestra in their two concerts at the Music Hall which were well received and more people attended than were there for the symphony concerts.
Besides all these accomplishments, Jones was also a highly accomplished composer who wrote some magnificent compositions, especially his cantata (Song of Our Saviour) and oratorio (Easter Concert), and his String Quartet No. 2, first performed by the Kneisel Quartet in Mrs. J.L. (Isabella Stewart) Gardner's music room on Beacon Hill in Boston.
Jones was well respected in his time, not only in Stoughton but also by distinguished musicians in Boston like Benjamin J. Lang, who attended the premiere of the Jones oratorio in 1887 and spoke very highly about it.
Why should we be interested in the music of E.A. Jones today?
Because it is of such high quality and represents what a rural 19th century composer could accomplish outside of a large city, like Boston.
Give his music a chance and you might be surprised how enjoyable it is to listen to.
-- Roger Hall, author of E.A. Jones: His Life and Music
During his lifetime E.A. Jones did not compose a great deal of music, but much of it is very rewarding to hear. He had a particular gift for writing memorable themes and melodies.
Here is a list of his complete known works:
The following list of compositions by E.A. Jones
originally was published in E.A. Jones: His Life and Music (1984).
It has been updated for this centennial observance.
Op. 1: Duo for Two Violins (1871) - G Major
Op. 2a. Trios for Piano, Violin, and Bass - Key: G minor/ 2b. Key: G Major (1871)
Op. 3: For The Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth (TTBB)(1874) -
Op. 4: Praise Ye The Lord (TTBB)(1874) - A Major
Op. 5: Heavenly Father, Hear Our Prayer (TTBB)(1874) -
Op. 6: Blessing and Glory (TTBB)(1874) - Bb Major
Op. 7: Susan Brown (TTBB)(1874) - B Major
Op. 8a. The Farewell Waltzes - For Chamber Ensemble (1872)
Op. 8b. +The Farewell Waltzes - Solo Piano in D Major (1874)
Op. 9a: God of Our Salvation, Hear Us (TTBB)(1875) - Ab Major
Op. 9b: God Of Our Salvation, Hear Us (TTBB)(1876) - Bb Major
Op. 10: Prelude and Fugue) in G minor for Organ (1878)
Op. 11: Supposing (Soprano and Piano)(1878) - E Major
Op. 12a. Trio for Violin, Viola, Cello - Air in the Style of Handel - D Major (1878)
Op. 12b. Trio for Strings - G Major (1878)
Op. 13: String Quartet No. 1 in F Major (1878)
Op. 14: Dedication March for Orchestra (1881) - D Major
Op. 15: + Wake, Maiden Wake (TTBB) -
published in 1881 - B Major
Op. 16: +Song of Our Saviour - Cantata for Soloists, Chorus, Orchestra(1881)
Op. 17: Suite Ancienne for Orchestra in 3 movements (1886)
Op. 18: +Old Stoughton (SATB) - published in Boston, 1886 -
Op. 19: King Christian (Bass Solo and SATB)(1886) - Eb Major
Op. 20: +Up the Hillside (SATB a cappella)(published in 1886) - C Major
Op. 21: Love is a Sickness Full of Woe (SATB a cappella)- G min
Op. 22: String Quartet No. 2 in G minor (1887)
Op. 23: Easter Anthem (SATB Soloists, Chorus, Orchestra)(1887) - Bb Major
Op. 24: Lament for String Quartet (1888) - G minor
Op. 25: Ode to Music (SATB Chorus
Op. 26: Love Hailed a Little Maid (Soprano and Piano)(1888)
Op. 27: Snowflakes (Soprano and Piano)(1888)
Op. 28: +Easter Concert - For SATB Soloists, Chorus, Piano (1890)
Op. 29: +The Lord is King (SATB Chorus)(published in Boston, 1883) - F Major
Op. 30: +Now is Christ Risen & Rouse Thee! O Zion! (Bass Solo and Piano)/ Sing We To The Lord (Soprano Solo/ SATB Chorus and Piano) (1884) - Bb Major
Op. 31: +Lord God of Hosts (SATB Chorus and Piano) (1886)-
Op. 32: Air with Variations for Piano - C Major
Op. 33: Club Waltzes for Piano - C and F Major
Op. 34: Duke of York (SATB Chorus a cappella) - G Major
Op. 35: Fugetta for String Quartet in Bb Major
Op. 36: Hail, Smiling Morn (Bass Solo and Chamber Ensemble) - D Major
Op. 37: Heavenly Father, Hear Our Prayer - Tenor and Soprano,
Op. 38: Invocation and Benediction for Orchestra - F Major
Op. 39: Lament for String Quartet - D minor
Op. 40: Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing (SATB Chorus a cappella) - D Major
Op. 41: Lochinvar Overture for Orchestra - Bb Major
Op. 42: Minuet and Trio for String Trio
- G Major
Op. 43: There's a Land Immortal (SATB Chorus a cappella) -
Op. 44: God Bless Our Native Land (SATB Quartet and Piano)(1900) - Eb Major (composed for the new century)
+ = published works = 8
String Quartet For Isabella Stewart Gardner
[The Gardner residence at 152 Beacon Street in Boston]
One of the proudest moments for Jones was when his Second String Quartet titled, Prelude and Fugue in G minor, was first performed on February 28, 1889 by the most respected chamber music ensemble of its day, the Kneisel Quartet. A recording of this String Quartet, performed by The Cremona Quartet is available on the DVD, "How Beautiful Upon The Mountains - Music by E.A. Jones."
It was part of a series sponsored by the Manuscript Club and performed in the music room of John Lowell Gardner's five floor townhouse at 152 Beacon Street. The Jones string quartet is dedicated to Mrs. J. L. (Isabella Stewart) Gardner.
Other composers also represented in that 1889 concert program at the Gardner home were: Clayton Johns, Margaret Ruthven Lang, Edward MacDowell [shown at left] and Horatio Parker. All of them autographed the concert program for Mrs. Gardner (a copy of the program is in the New England Music Archive).
The music titles for this concert are listed in Morris Carter's 1925 book, Isabella Stewart Gardner and Fenway Court.
World Premiere Recording
of a Cantata
Completed in 1881, the dramatic cantata, Song of Our Saviour (Op. 14), was the crowning achievement for E.A. Jones and a work that deserves to be heard more often.
This cantata was discovered along with other music by Jones at the Stoughton Historical Society in 1980 by musicologist, Roger Hall, who has written a brief biography titled: E.A. Jones: His Life and Music
The cantata was revised from an earlier choral work, The Nativity Hymn, one of only four works to receive honorable mention in 1879 in the Cincinnati College of Music competition, judged by Theodore Thomas, the most distinguished conductor in America at that time.
Song of Our Saviour was composed for SATB soloists, chorus, organ and orchestra.
It received its World Premiere performance over one hundred years after its completion on May 3, 1992, with four soloists, organist Richard Hill, and the Old Stoughton Musical Society Chorus and Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Raymond Fahrner, who also edited and prepared the orchestration for the cantata.
There was an article written about this World Premiere performance in The Boston Globe newspaper, "Giving life to E.A. Jones' lost masterpiece," on May 4, 1992.
Here are a few listening samples (for streaming only):
Alto Air: "How beautiful upon the mountains" (Isaiah 52:7)
Chorale: "Behold what matchless tender love"
Trio: "Look unto Me and be saved" (Isaiah 45:22)
The complete cantata from the World Premiere performance in 1992 is now available on AMRC CD 0029 -- click here.
Premiere Performances of an Oratorio
The second major choral work by Jones was his oratorio, Easter Concert (Op. 28), published in a piano-vocal score by White-Smith Music in Boston, Massachusetts
Jones was a friend of one of Boston's most respected musicians, B.J. Lang, who attended the first performance of the oratorio, then titled Easter Anthem (Op. 23), in Stoughton on April 11, 1887. Lang spoke briefly at the intermission and called the oratorio "a beautiful and grand affair." He went on to say that he wished he could transport the whole chorus and orchestra of 150 members to his city twenty miles away, "to give the people of Boston an idea of what Stoughton could do!"
Easter Concert was modeled on Handel's Messiah and is in three sections, ending with a majestic fugal movement, "Great God of Nations," for vocal quartet and chorus.
The first modern day performance of this Jones oratorio, edited and conducted by Roger Hall, was performed on April 26, 1981 by the Old Stoughton Musical Society.
The 80 minute oratorio was performed again in 1984. Both performances were from the piano-vocal score. Unfortunately, the orchestral parts are now lost.
The May 6, 1984 performance featured Marion Hollis and Linda Brookfield, sopranos; Nancy Davis and Ethel Wallace, altos; Michael Duarte, tenor; David Benjamin, bass; The Old Stoughton Musical Society Chorus; Edward Wood, piano; Earl Eyrich, conductor. This concert performance is now available on a CD (AMRC 0030).
To hear music samples from this oratorio -- click here
Stoughton's Two Musical Societies
Jones was a member of both choral societies in town:
The Stoughton Musical Society -- founded in 1786 and now the oldest choral society in the United States. Jones joined this society in 1871. In 1908 it was officially incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as The Old Stoughton Musical Society (or OSMS).
The Musical Society in Stoughton --founded in 1802 and only open to town residents. Jones joined in 1881. This musical society was disbanded in 1982.
For the Stoughton Musical Society Centennial in 1886, Jones was the lead violinist and director of the orchestra. Also that year, he composed a special commemorative chorus for The Musical Society in Stoughton, a fuging tune in the style of 18th century New England music, and he titled it: "OLD STOUGHTON."
Leadership and Legacy
Jones held a weekly "musicale" of chamber music with his musician friends at his Stoughton home, performing chamber music by Mozart, Mendelssohn and other composers.
Besides his musical activities, he was also remembered for his civic leadership as School Committee member for fifteen years, Trustee of the Stoughton Public Library, President of the Fortnightly Club, and Secretary of the Chicataubut Club.
He was also President of the Stoughton Musical Society (1902-1904) and its Secretary (1894-1901/1906-1910).
In 1892, Jones designed the Stoughton Town Seal -- possibly the only one in the United States with a historical music symbol -- a harp honoring the oldest choral society in the U.S.A.
Because of his considerable dedication on the School Committee, a school in Stoughton was named after him, located across the street from where he lived at the corner of Pierce and Walnut Streets.
Edwin Arthur Jones died suddenly of a heart attack on January 9, 1911, at the age of 57.
Praise From A Famous Boston Author
The distinguished writer and clergyman, Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909), wrote the following description of a Sunday concert led by Edwin Arthur Jones:
For two hours an orchestra, such as he had seldom heard, rendered with dignity and feeling some of the best music of the noblest composers...more than fifty years ago the musical society of this village was gathered and incorporated. That has probably helped in building up the taste of this town. But in our generation one modest man who knows the power of music has organized this grand orchestra.
Nobody pays them, nobody pays him, except the good God. ..This man was the leader, whom you saw. If he had not been too modest, you would have heard one of his own compositions. I dare say you have heard them in New York or in Cincinnati. I wanted you to see this, so soon as you asked what was possible in a community of five hundred people.
He then explained what his fictional description was based on:
I have here attempted to describe the interesting musical service which is carried on in the town of Stoughton, in Norfolk County, in Massachusetts ...I have but described in this chapter, as well as I can, the service which the people of this town render regularly under the leadership of Mr. Edward [Edwin] Jones.
-- Mr. Tangier's Vacations (Boston, 1888),
Anniversary Program Tributes
Jones biographer, Roger Hall, spoke about the Jones String Quartet No. 2 in G minor, dedicated to Isabella Stewart Gardner and first performed on February 28, 1889 in the music room [shown at right] of her home at 152 Beacon Street in Boston.
A recording of this string quartet performed by The Cremona Quartet was played as part of the Stoughton Reads Together series on the Gardner Museum Art Heist, and presented in the Wales French Room of the Stoughton Public Library,Thursday,
April 28, 2011.
After the program, Roger Hall presented his new DVD collection titled, NEW ENGLAND MUSIC SAMPLER, which includes the Jones string quartet and other music by E.A. Jones, to Stoughton Library Director, Pat Basler.
On Sunday, March 13, 2011, at the Stoughton Historical Society, musicologist and Jones biographer, Roger Hall, presented several DVDs of his Stoughton music research to Dwight MacKerron, Historical Society President. Roger also gave a slide show about the music
of E.A. Jones for those attending the monthly Stoughton Historical Society meeting. His lecture was titled, "E.A. Jones: Stoughton's Past Music Man."
"Great God Nations" - E.A. Jones: His Life and Music
This CD contains interviews with two women who knew E.A. Jones and also samples of his music from his oratorio, "EASTER CONCERT" (1890).
Listen to a few samples, click the underlined links below...
1. Prelude and Fugue in G minor (1878) -
for pipe organ - Richard Hill, organist,
Old West Church, Boston, Massachusetts, 1980
2. Interview with Viola Wigmore and Anne (Capen) Peterson in 1980
3. EASTER CONCERT: Savior, like a shepherd lead us
4. EASTER CONCERT: And when all things/ Immortal Honor
(Tenor recitative and air)
5. EASTER CONCERT: In heavenly love abiding
6. EASTER CONCERT: The Lord is King (Chorus0
7. More interview in 1980
8. Interview continued
9. EASTER CONCERT: Sing We to the Lord (Soprano soloist and Chorus)
10. EASTER CONCERT: Hail! All Triumphant Lord!
11. EASTER CONCERT: Behold what matchless tender love
12. More of the interview
13. EASTER CONCERT: Rouse Thee, O Zion!
14. EASTER CONCERT: Great God of Nations
15. Trio for Strings (1878)
16. The Farewell Waltzes (1874)
Marion Hollis, soprano
Meredith Lays, alto
Peter Bradstreet, tenor
David Benjamin, bass
Organist: Richard Hill
Pianist: Edward Wood
Old Stoughton Musical Society Chorus
To order this CD (AMRC 0008)
"How Beautiful Upon The Mountains"
Music By E. A. Jones (1853 - 1911)